The Government will start 2023 without budgets, the rule of the last decade only breaks this year

Budget extensions and approval of the accounts once the year has already begun have become the usual rule of Catalan politics in the last decade.

Thomas Osborne
Thomas Osborne
28 December 2022 Wednesday 23:32
4 Reads
The Government will start 2023 without budgets, the rule of the last decade only breaks this year

Budget extensions and approval of the accounts once the year has already begun have become the usual rule of Catalan politics in the last decade. Only once in the last thirteen years has it been possible to reach January 1 with the validation of the accounts published in the Official Gazette of the Generalitat (DOGC); that is, in time and form. Political instability has had a full impact year after year on the most important law that the Government can promote. This year will be no less.

Despite the fact that the positions had been getting closer between the Government and the PSC to formalize an agreement, the Socialists presented yesterday a proposal that supposes an amendment to what ERC had in mind, which not only removes in time the possibility of an agreement but also cools the possibility of that agreement. And as already planned, Catalonia will start 2023 without an approved budget and with a technical extension in force until the Executive cannot validate the accounts in Parliament.

The departure of Junts from the Government, a party of which the previous Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, was a part, complicated the path of the accounts. Esquerra, who governs alone, has entrusted its preparation to Natàlia Mas, in charge of the Department. Negotiations continue with many push and pull. Pere Aragonès has secured the support of the commons, but he lacks the votes of a more numerous force in the chamber: either the PSC or Junts. The weakness of the Government -it only has 33 deputies-, is added to the fragmentation of the Parliament and to a dynamic of blocks, derived from the process, which now seems to be fading.

Political instability is currently combined with economic instability. The bad omens, skyrocketing prices and the measures planned to alleviate this situation give even more relevance to the 2023 budgets.

However, Catalonia still has not approved them, a fact that extends a dynamic consolidated in the last decade. With the exception of this 2022, which were approved in due time and form and were published on January 1 in the DOGC, the rest of the exercises, since the end of the tripartite led by José Montilla, have begun with a technical extension, and up to five Sometimes it has not been possible to have new accounts. The reasons have been several: electoral contexts, lack of political consensus, economic reasons or the application of article 155 of the Constitution.

The last ones from Montilla -those from 2010-, and also the previous ones, did arrive on time. It was from then on that the approval dynamics faltered. Artur Mas was sworn in as president in December 2010, so his first accounts -raised by the then minister Andreu Mas-Colell- did not receive the green light until July 2011, with the votes of the CiU and the then deputy Joan Laporta (now president of FC Barcelona), in addition to the abstention of the PP. The 2012 accounts also entered into force with the current year (at the end of February), and this time the convergents had the yes of the PP and again of Laporta.

The early elections of that year, after the pro-independence demonstration and the slamming of the door by Mariano Rajoy to Mas for the fiscal pact, conditioned the following political events. In 2013 there were no budgets. Between the preparation of the new Government and the deficit targets set by Madrid, Mas opted to extend them. The following year, the CiU Government did carry them out. He got the green light from the Catalan chamber, thanks to ERC, although it was at the end of January. The position of the Republicans in the Parliament was defended, by the way, by Pere Aragonès, who was an ordinary deputy at the time. On that occasion, everything was planned so that they were approved the previous December and could appear in the DOGC on January 1, but a request for an opinion from the PP to the Consell de Garanties Estatutàries delayed the process.

Those of 2015 -the last of Artur Mas- could be applied in March, again thanks to the pact between convergents and republicans. Marina Geli, a non-attached deputy after leaving the PSC, abstained.

The events precipitated at the end of that legislature. After the so-called plebiscite elections on September 27, 2015, Mas left Palau - to facilitate a pact with the CUP - despite being elected by Junts pel Sí (a coalition of CDC and ERC) and was succeeded by Carles Puigdemont. The agreement with the Cuperos included approving the 2016 budget, but it ended up being reversed, and they were extended, as had already happened in 2013. This fact irritated Puigdemont, who presented a vote of confidence in Parliament. The president ended up seducing the CUP by betting on a referendum and the Chamber ratified him in office. There he managed to pave the way for the 2017 accounts, which entered into force at the end of March thanks to two favorable votes from the CUP and eight abstentions from the anti-capitalists themselves.

The application of article 155 of the Constitution, after 1-O and the DUI, in October of that year, made it difficult to approve the 2018 accounts. They were extended until 2019, with Quim Torra in the presidency, and then it was decided for its own sake -consecutively- for not being able to reach an agreement with the CUP or Catalunya en Comú. The Government began 2020 dragging the 2017 budgets, but was able to promote new ones in April, during the hard times of the covid pandemic, thanks to the abstention of the commons.

With the Catalan elections at the beginning of 2021, the accounts for the year were extended, and it was not until the end of the year that the Executive of ERC and Junts, with Pere Aragonès at the helm, agreed again with those of Jéssica Albiach to approve those of 2022. And, in addition, in time and form. It was the only time since 2010. A mirage. With the start of 2023, Catalonia returns to its old ways.